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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don’t mean to be provocative with my first post but…

Having lived in Thailand for 16 years and spent many hours observing dogs in Thai society and reading about them, I have reached the conclusion that not all unowned dogs here are stray. I am not talking about abandoned pets or pets on the loose which are definitely stray, a big problem for society and in need of our help. However, there is another class of unowned “village” dogs who are living a healthy, fulfilling life in close proximity to people as they have been doing ever since there have been dogs. These animals are not pets but neither are they “stray”.

Please realize that this is in the context of south-east Asia and I am not suggesting such a model is suitable in western society but I do get frustrated by the assumption that a dog must be owned, which thereby lumps all unowned dogs in the same category as a problem to be solved or as animals needing to be saved.

There is more about this particular view of dogs, which is also very relevant to their origins, on my blog (below). I appreciate that this idea can be challenging to the accepted understanding of the dog’s role and is blurred by the horrifically common abandonment of pets but I truly feel that a lot of these unowned “village” dogs need our respect more than our pity.

Comments?
 

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Doesn't sound like a bad situation at first glance if they have enough to eat, are warm and healthy, but doesn't the population get out of control without neutering? And if not, why not? Is there enough to eat? Is disease keeping the population down?
 

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Stray:
noun -.a domestic animal found wandering at large or without an owner.

-.any homeless or friendless person or animal.

Dictionary.com

Even if the conditions aren't "horrific", they are still stray dogs that I assume (?) get no medical care and will end up suffering when they get sick because there is no one to take care of them... because they are not owned. Nutrition is probably abysmal as well...

While I respect them, as I respect all animals, I'd think they also need pity, appropriate care and a means to prevent suffering when it does occur.
 

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My main concern is who is medically treating and paying for these dogs? If a dog comes down with an illness are they treated by a veterinarian?
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I'm guessing the argument you're making is that these aren't domestic dogs, simply by the nature of their lives through the generations, therefore they're more 'wild' or 'feral' than 'stray'?
 

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This is very much a cultural thing. I can respect that. It would not work here in the US but we have a very different way of life and view on the world.

Please understand, when we are worried about strays or homeless dogs, it is coming from our cultural basis. Just like anything else, perception and personal filters. I do not believe anyone is trying to belittle/look down on a different way. It is just a matter of it doesn't fit in our world, as I'm certain much of what we do does not fit in yours.
 

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It makes sense to me. Not to be rude, but places like india and thailand..ect.. where there are a lot of people who don't have "proper" living conditions themselves how do you expect the animals to be like? Honestly from what I've seen it's not like in our society where oh, the dog has no owner it' a stray. Most dogs there are from generations of "strays" and some are what one could consider "wild" because they all reproduced thhrough natural selection and not human breeding. I'v seen a documentery (can't remember which) aabout dogs, and they talked about the dog origins. When they were doin that they "visited" dogs in situations like this because they are considerd "semi-domesticated" because they don't depend on people and people generaly leave them alone if they aren't destructive, yet they still have daily interactions with people. We can't compare our situation to theres, it's no comparison. It's just the same as in some places it's okay to eat certain animals while in other places it isn't.
 

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it would be so crazy to have wild/stray dogs running all over our towns and streets.. think about how many car accidents and dog bites (from dogs with no shots who could be carrying anything) would occur, not to mention who would be cleaning up the dog feces that would inevitably be everywhere.. i love the fact that i can take my dog for a walk without fearing that she might be attacked by a stray, not that all strays are aggresive but a percentage will be.. and i live in CO i would hate to think of the poor dogs freezing to death in the winter..
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for your comments everyone.

I certainly agree that it wouldn’t be suitable or work in the US as there is no cultural basis for it. Your unowned dogs are stray, no question.

The medical care they get is very variable, often non-existent, but this is by far more of an issue in large urban centers where most of the unowned dogs are abandoned pets which are not made for the lifestyle and often end-up living in high densities on a poor diet so mange and other contagious health problems spread like wildfire. Temples are the classic example of this as the ex-owners apparently feel more comfortable knowing that their once-loved pet will at least get a bit of rice occasionally but are condemning the dog to very poor health. On the other hand the traditional village dogs live in much lower densities and generally have good health just as other free-living animals do (maybe even better as some do get medical attention from people).

Why the population doesn’t get out of control is a good question that I can’t answer properly. Maybe the diet has a role? Perhaps a different angle is to say that stray dog populations that get out of control are usually being fuelled by abandonments (certainly true in Bangkok).

The definition of “stray” is, for me, where it gets very interesting. Work by two separate respected researchers has produced a fascinating story of how dogs were probably domesticated whereby some groups of wolves began scavenging around human communities and eventually evolved into a dog-like animal which was perfect for domestication (far more so than the wolf itself). That animal was probably the dingo and it happened in south-east Asia. Surprisingly, there are still many dingoes living in central and northern Thailand (and maybe elsewhere) but their lifestyle and looks make people assume they are unowned domestic dogs. Basically, these dingoes, which are increasingly interbred with domestic dogs, are the village dogs that I’m talking about and they are living as they always have done. Therefore, I stand by my belief that they are not “stray”.

I admit that this domestication route is a fairly new idea and still open for a lot of debate but it makes so much sense to me. By the way, the two books these ideas came from are:
"Dogs. A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin. Behavior and Evolution" by Raymond and Lorna Coppinger
“The Dingo in Australia and Asia” by Laurie Corbett.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It makes sense to me. Not to be rude, but places like india and thailand..ect.. where there are a lot of people who don't have "proper" living conditions themselves how do you expect the animals to be like? Honestly from what I've seen it's not like in our society where oh, the dog has no owner it' a stray. Most dogs there are from generations of "strays" and some are what one could consider "wild" because they all reproduced thhrough natural selection and not human breeding. I'v seen a documentery (can't remember which) aabout dogs, and they talked about the dog origins. When they were doin that they "visited" dogs in situations like this because they are considerd "semi-domesticated" because they don't depend on people and people generaly leave them alone if they aren't destructive, yet they still have daily interactions with people. We can't compare our situation to theres, it's no comparison. It's just the same as in some places it's okay to eat certain animals while in other places it isn't.
I would love to see that documentary. Any chance you can rack your brains and come up with a title…or channel…or anything else? No problem if you can’t :)
 

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Coppinger does feel the dogs were domesticated in this way. Indeed


I personally feel its a blend of the scavenger theory and human selection. That is becoming the more accepted theory lately

I used to live in an area with many ferals. They will eat the dead very quickly. This is probably why you arent seeing dead dogs

Many countries shoot "excess" village dogs. Its possible yours does also


Have village dogs been around forever? Sure! So has murder and slavery. Doesnt mean its right or humane. No matter how much past effect its had
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Dog | Forum | Rocks!
 

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Well, where I live, we have coyotes, which is in the canine family, that run wild and have never been domesticated. And other places have wolves and several other breeds of canines running wild. Dogs have been around as long as people have been, and they've done fine without being medicated or taken care of, that's where their instincts have come in. Sure, they may suffer from diseases, but that's just life, and they've adjusted their survival around it. I doubt people have always treated their dogs the same way we treat our's today. Maybe that's what she's meaning, because as far as I know, most of the domesticated dogs that we keep as pets didn't start out to be what they are today. I mean, I own pomeranians, and I know for a fact that their breed didn't originally exist since they were bred down from the Spitz/American Eskimos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Coppinger does feel the dogs were domesticated in this way. Indeed


I personally feel its a blend of the scavenger theory and human selection. That is becoming the more accepted theory lately

I used to live in an area with many ferals. They will eat the dead very quickly. This is probably why you arent seeing dead dogs

Many countries shoot "excess" village dogs. Its possible yours does also


Have village dogs been around forever? Sure! So has murder and slavery. Doesnt mean its right or humane. No matter how much past effect its had
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What I see are many unowned dogs leading healthy, fulfilling lives (as far as I can tell what is fulfilling to them) and I see nothing wrong or inhumane about it. However, it is greatly confused by the inhumane abandonment of pets.

I can’t say for sure, but shooting “excess” dogs is unlikely to be a common practice here in Buddhist Thailand.

You may be right about dog evolution being a combination of the scavenger theory and human selection but an interesting question is at what point the selection became deliberate as the scavenger theory already includes non-deliberate selection. I think we’ve still got a lot to learn about the exact process but one way or another it’s a fascinating story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, where I live, we have coyotes, which is in the canine family, that run wild and have never been domesticated. And other places have wolves and several other breeds of canines running wild. Dogs have been around as long as people have been, and they've done fine without being medicated or taken care of, that's where their instincts have come in. Sure, they may suffer from diseases, but that's just life, and they've adjusted their survival around it. I doubt people have always treated their dogs the same way we treat our's today. Maybe that's what she's meaning, because as far as I know, most of the domesticated dogs that we keep as pets didn't start out to be what they are today. I mean, I own pomeranians, and I know for a fact that their breed didn't originally exist since they were bred down from the Spitz/American Eskimos.
I am saying that some populations of dogs in the world have never been owned in the sense we understand now.

The mixing with loose and abandoned pets means that I can’t claim that this is true for all of any individual dog’s predecessors but I do believe that the unowned village dog lifestyle has been continuous since dogs came into being and therefore it is wrong to call these particular dogs “stray”.

By the way, I’m a “he” ;)
 

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firstly, i dont think coyotes are dogs, and secondly i do think your "village" dogs are strays weather ever been owned by humans or not.. and i dont think having wild/stray dogs walking around in close contact with people is healthy or humane for anybody the dogs or the people.. i would like to think thats why we have shelters (i hate kill shelters but i do think shelters are necessary for the health of any community) you really cant compare what we call a town to what he is calling a village.. the village likely doesnt have the means to take care of the wild dog population, they are likely to not have means to take proper care of themselves as we might think fit.. so the wild dog discussion seems irrelavent anywhere except in places that has no choice but to accept it as normal or "healthy" a wild dog living half the lifespan of a house dog, likely spreading disease everywhere he goes and then reproducing to have who knows what percentage of pups die and the ones that dont just continuing and worsening the situation, sleeping in rain and cold and filth doesnt really seem healthy or happy to me. :(
 

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I live in the Philippines, however, in general, we do NOT allow dogs to stray around because of one main reason: rabies. Owners are penalized accordingly for that. Many here are under the belief that dogs suffer when caged or leashed. I beg to differ. Given the time when it is appropriate for them to go out for outdoor activities, this issue is kinda moot. Most however think otherwise with the consequence of losing their dogs in the process.

Stray dogs can bite both humans and livestocks and even attack pet dogs. I read one article where a rabid stray dog bit a goat. They cooked the goat after killing the dog and several persons who ate the meat came down with rabies symptoms. One young girl even expired a few weeks after.

Here in our country, you will not see much of the stray dogs in urban areas. They are usually caught and unfortunately cooked as food. The risk of contracting rabies is still there, of course. It's certainly a risk they choose. I am not one of those who would dare eat dog meat. This is not just because of my compassion but because of the risks involved.

And lastly, we use the term "stray" for dogs roaming around the streets unsupervised by their owners.
 

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I am saying that some populations of dogs in the world have never been owned in the sense we understand now.
This is what makes a difference in my opinion. The dogs you are talking about don't sound domesticated in the true sense - they are still in the transitional period between 'wild' and 'domestic'. As such it would be wrong to consider them strays and possibly wrong to enforce an expectation that they 'should' be living in human homes.

I have no problem with that - no more than I have a problem with any other wild animal living outside.

I wouldn't want to be leaving little ones playing outside though if there were hungry wild animals wandering around the village/town.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is what makes a difference in my opinion. The dogs you are talking about don't sound domesticated in the true sense - they are still in the transitional period between 'wild' and 'domestic'. As such it would be wrong to consider them strays and possibly wrong to enforce an expectation that they 'should' be living in human homes.

I have no problem with that - no more than I have a problem with any other wild animal living outside.

I wouldn't want to be leaving little ones playing outside though if there were hungry wild animals wandering around the village/town.
The “transitional period” idea is perhaps a good way of looking at it. However, the difference between these dogs and other wild animals is that the dogs have a very close relationship to people, which perhaps makes them unique in the animal kingdom. They are an accepted part of the village environment, which is not true for most stray dog populations around the world, and as such they are calm and unthreatening around people. They don't even eat the chickens that they share the streets with. I think pet dogs on the loose are a much bigger danger to children.
 
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